"Mind, mind alone, (bear witness, earth and heaven!) / The living fountains in itself contains / Of beauteous and sublime."

— Akenside, Mark (1720-1771)

Place of Publication
1744, 1772, 1795
"Mind, mind alone, (bear witness, earth and heaven!) / The living fountains in itself contains / Of beauteous and sublime."
Metaphor in Context
...But more lovely still
Is nature's charm, where to the full consent
Of complicated members, to the bloom
Of colour, and the vital change of growth,
Life's holy flame and piercing sense are given,
And active motion speaks the temper'd soul:
So moves the bird of Juno; so the steed
With rival ardour beats the dusty plain,
And faithful dogs with eager airs of joy
Salute their fellows. Thus doth beauty dwell
There most conspicuous, even in outward shape,
Where dawns the high expression of a mind:
By steps conducting our inraptur'd search
To that eternal origin, whose power,
Through all the unbounded symmetry of things,
Like rays effulging from the parent sun,
This endless mixture of her charms diffus'd.
Mind, mind alone, (bear witness, earth and heaven!)
The living fountains in itself contains
Of beauteous and sublime
: here hand in hand,
Sit paramount the Graces; here inthron'd,
Coelestial Venus, with divinest airs,
Invites the soul to never-fading joy.
Look then abroad through nature, to the range
Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense;
And speak, o man! does this capacious scene
With half that kindling majesty dilate
Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose [7]
Refulgent from the stroke of Cæsar's fate,
Amid the croud of patriots; and his arm
Aloft extending, like eternal Jove
When guilt brings down the thunder, call'd aloud
On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel,
And bade the father of his country, hail!
For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust,
And Rome again is free! Is aught so fair
In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,
In the bright eye of Hesper or the morn,
In nature's fairest forms, is aught so fair
As virtuous friendship? as the candid blush
Of him who strives with fortune to be just?
The graceful tear that streams for others woes?
Or the mild majesty of private life,
Where peace with ever-blooming olive crowns
The gate; where honour's liberal hands effuse
Unenvied treasures, and the snowy wings
Of innocence and love protect the scene?
Once more search, undismay'd, the dark profound
Where nature works in secret; view the beds
Of mineral treasure, and the eternal vault
That bounds the hoary ocean; trace the forms
Of atoms moving with incessant change
Their elemental round; behold the seeds
Of being, and the energy of life
Kindling the mass with ever-active flame:
Then to the secrets of the working mind
Attentive turn; from dim oblivion call
Her fleet, ideal band; and bid them, go!
Break through time's barrier, and o'ertake the hour
That saw the heavens created: then declare
If aught were found in those external scenes
To move thy wonder now. For what are all
The forms which brute, unconscious matter wears,
Greatness of bulk, or symmetry of parts?
Not reaching to the heart, soon feeble grows
The superficial impulse; dull their charms,
And satiate soon, and pall the languid eye.
Not so the moral species, nor the powers
Of genius and design; the ambitious mind
There sees herself: by these congenial forms
Touch'd and awaken'd, with intenser act
She bends each nerve, and meditates well-pleas'd
Her features in the mirror. For of all
The inhabitants of earth, to man alone
Creative wisdom gave to lift his eye
To truth's eternal measures; thence to frame
The sacred laws of action and of will,
Discerning justice from unequal deeds,
And temperance from folly. But beyond
This energy of truth, whose dictates bind
Assenting reason, the benignant sire,
To deck the honour'd paths of just and good,
Has added bright imagination's rays:
Where virtue, rising from the awful depth [8]
Of truth's mysterious bosom, doth forsake
The unadorn'd condition of her birth;
And dress'd by fancy in ten thousand hues,
Assumes a various feature, to attract,
With charms responsive to each gazer's eye,
The hearts of men. Amid his rural walk,
The ingenuous youth, whom solitude inspires
With purest wishes, from the pensive shade
Beholds her moving, like a virgin-muse
That wakes her lyre to some indulgent theme
Of harmony and wonder: while among
The herd of servile minds, her strenuous form
Indignant flashes on the patriot's eye,
And through the rolls of memory appeals
To ancient honour, or in act serene,
Yet watchful, raises the majestic sword
Of public power, from dark ambition's reach
To guard the sacred volume of the laws.
HDIS (Poetry); found again in Marjorie Nicholson's Newton Demands the Muse (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1946), 154.
Over 33 entries in the ESTC (1744, 1748, 1754, 1758, 1759, 1763, 1765, 1767, 1768, 1769, 1771, 1775, 1777, 1780, 1786, 1788, 1794, 1795, 1796). At least five editions in 1744.

Text from Mark Akenside, The Poems Of Mark Akenside (London: W. Bowyer and J. Nichols, 1772). <Link to LION>

Compare the poem as first published: Mark Akenside, The Pleasures of Imagination: A Poem. In Three Books. (London: Printed for R. Dodsley 1744). <Link to ESTC> <Link to ECCO-TCP> <Link to Google Books>

Also reading The Pleasures of Imagination (Otley, England: Woodstock Books, 2000), which reprints The Pleasures of Imagination. By Mark Akenside, M.D. to Which Is Prefixed a Critical Essay on the Poem, by Mrs. Barbauld. (London: Printed for T. Cadell, jun. and W. Davies, (successors to Mr. Cadell), 1795). <Link to ESTC>
Date of Entry
Date of Review

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.